Four by Five Magic for Swords and Wizardry

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Daniel Howard asked for non-traditional magic systems in this post over on the Swords & Wizardry community. I posted a spell point system and others posted similar ideas. When he stated that he was looking for something that didn't require much tracking, I thought about Microlite20's Four by Five magic system that Robin Stacey wrote. The system was inspired by FUDGE, Ars Magica, Harry Potter and the Belgariad. It is OGL.

To adapt it to Swords & Wizardry let's state it like this:

Introduction

For Magi, Magic is nothing more than the speaking of two (or more) Words of Power in a magical language said to predate the elves. Magi cannot be multi-classed or dual classed.

Magi begin play at 1st level knowing three Words of Power - either Two Actions and One Realm, or Two Realms and One Action. They learn one new Word of Power every three levels (3,6,9,etc).

The Four Actions

  • Enhance (augeo): Strengthen, Heal, Enlarge, Repair, Sharpen, or anything else that means to improve.
  • Diminish (infirmo): Weaken, Damage, Reduce, Break, Dull, Deteriorate, etc.
  • Communicate with (defero): Sense, Read, Seek, Inform, Determine, Understand, etc.
  • Control (tempero): Shape, Alter, Hold, Animate, Command, Form, Direct, Dictate, etc.

Control spells cannot be learned until you have learned all of the other Actions.

The Five Realms

  • Body (corpus): Living body of sentient beings, animals, plants.
  • Mind (mentis): That which normally inhabits and animates a body
  • Spirit (animus): The essence or soul. Spirit is difficult to learn, and you may not learn Spirit spells until you have learned at least three other Realms and three Actions
  • Energy (navitas): Fire, water, air, magic, [electricity, etc.] - and, if the DM allows, time.
  • Matter (materia): Solid material with no mind - stone, metal, wood, leather, paper, etc.]

At 10th level and every level thereafter, Magi can specialize in a specific type of Action or Realm  for an added +2 bonus per type. If the DM allows, a Magi can specialize in the same form more than once. Examples include a specialization in Healing (a specific type of augeo), specialization in Fire (a specific type of navitas), and a specialization in stone (a specific type of materia).

Spells are cast by combining a Word with an Action and successfully making a saving throw. A Magi adds their INT bonus to the roll. For INT from 13 to 15, the bonus is +1. An INT of 16 or 17 earns a +2 bonus. For an INT of 18, the bonus is +3.

The Saving Throw is modified based on the target and the number of spells cast. Here are the adjustments based on the target:

TARGET SAVING THROW ADJUSTEMENT
Self -2
Willing 0
Inanimate Organic +2
Unwilling +4
Inanimate Inorganic +6

Made with the Tableizer!

For each spell cast, an additional +1 is added to the Saving Throw.

Spells that affect inanimate objects are usually permanent; an enlarged pebble will stay large, a broken belt will stay mended. Magically created fires, etc, will die down naturally. Living creatures will eventually revert back to their normal form, though any healed damage stays healed.

Every three (or part) points of success is equal to an additional 1d6 or 1 Challenge Level effect. This can take the form of damage, healing or transformation. To turn one thing into another the total effect rolled must equal the difference between the two Challenge Levels. In other words, to change a Hobgoblin (CL 1) into a Bugbear (CL 3), the Saving Throw would need to succeed by 6 or more points.

Successfully casting the spell grants one Challenge Level effect, succeeding by 6 or more points provides an additional Challengel Level of success for a total of 2 challenge levels of success.

Examples

Maximus Verlinius, a 1st Level Magi knows the Words augeo, defero and navitas. He also has an Intelligence of 16. He suspects Todmore Fellhaven, his enemy, is in the next room, so he casts defero navitas to detect any energy sources in the area. The target is the Saving Throw of 15 + Inanimate Organic target (+2), or 17. He has an INT 16 making the bonus to his roll a +2. He rolls a 15, and after added the bonus for Intelligence, just reaches the target of 17. Maximus senses the burning torch held by his enemy.

Maximus bursts into the room, shouting augeo navitas!, pointing at the torch. The target number is Saving Throw (15) + Inanimate Organic target (+2) and the second spell cast that day (+1) or 18. He rolls a 19, getting a 21. Success! His rival takes 1d6 damage from the torch, staring in surprise at his opponent's sudden arrival.

Maximus' mentor is Creol Festerburn, a 10th level Magi of great power. He has an Intelligence of 18. He knows the all of the words of action, plus an extra bouns with navitas, specializing in fire-based magic.

Clutching a small coal in a brazier, Creol approaches the giant's lair. His apprentice stumbles over a tree branch, and the giant roars, appearing from the cave mouth. Creol utters a curse, then blows on the coal, whispering augeo navitas. He rolls a 13 for a total of 18 (A roll of 13, +3 for INT Bonus, and +2 for fire speciality). That's 10 above the target number, so the flame from the coal erupts into an 8 foot high sheet of flame (a 4d6 effect). Creol then shouts Tempero Navitas! and elemental eyes of coal appear in the flickering form. He rolled 10 for a total or 15 (10 plus INT bonus of 3 plus a fire speciality bonus of 2), easily beating the target number of 11 (Saving Throw of 8, plus a +2 adjustment for inanimate inorganic, and +1 for being the second spell cast).

The animated sheet of flame moves in to do battle with the giant. Since it was a 4d6 effect that animated the sheet of flame, I would use 4d6 to determine hit points.

Success Effect Height Weight Value
0 - 3 1d6 up to 1 ft. Less than 1lb Up to 1gp
4 - 6 2d6 1' to 2 ft. 1 – 8 lbs 1 to 25 gp
7 - 9 3d6 2' to 4 ft. 8 – 60 lbs 26 to 50 gp
10 - 12 4d6 4' to 8 ft. 60 – 500 lbs 51 to 100 gp
13 - 15 5d6 8' to 16 ft. 500 - 4000 lbs 101 to 500 gp
16 - 18 6d6 16' to 32 ft. 2 – 16 tons 501 to 2500 gp
19 - 21 7d6 32' to 64 ft. 16 – 125 tons 2501 gp to 10000 gp
22 - 24 8d6 64 ft. or more 125 tons + 10001 to 50000 gp

Made with the Tableizer!

Using the Emphases System with 4 by 5 Magic

With the Emphases System, a magi can cast any kind of spell, but those spells that falls within a magi's speciality will tend to be more successful. In other words, a 1st level Magi may have emphases in augero and corpus, but he or she can attempt any kind of spell.

Like the emphases mentioned in other posts, each action or realm that is an emphasis, or speciality, will add to the roll to determine success. In the first part of this post, only actions provided a bonus. Using the Emphases System, both actions and realms provide a bonus.

Unlike the emphases mentioned in other posts, the bonus is only +1 to start. At every level, the magi can increase an existing emphasis, gain a new one or specialize in two specific types of Action or Realm.

Let's take up our favorite magi once again.

Maximus Verlinius, a 2nd Level Magi knows the Words defero and navitas. He also has an Intelligence of 16. He suspects Todmore Fellhaven, his enemy, is in the next room, so he casts defero navitas to detect any energy sources in the area. The target is the Saving Throw of 15 + Inanimate Organic target (+2), or 17. He has an INT 16 making the bonus to his roll a +2. He also has an emphasis in defero, adding a +1 and another emphasis in navitas, adding another +1. He rolls a 13, and after adding the bonuses for the emphases and Intelligence, he just reaches the target of 17. Maximus senses the burning torch held by his enemy.

Maximus bursts into the room, shouting augeo navitas!, pointing at the torch. The target number is Saving Throw (15) + Inanimate Organic target (+2) and the second spell cast that day (+1) or 18. This time, he only get a +1 bonus for navitas, though he still gets a +2 for his Intelligence. He rolls a 16, resulting in a 19. Success! His rival takes 1d6 damage from the torch, staring in surprise at his opponent's sudden arrival.

Maximus' mentor is Creol Festerburn, a 10th level Magi of great power. He has an Intelligence of 18. He knows the all of the words of action, plus an extra bouns with navitas, specializing in fire-based magic and tempero, specializing in animating an object.

The emphases on his character sheet would be listed as:

  • Enhance (augeo) +1
  • Diminish (infirmo) +1
  • Communicate (defero) +1
  • Control (tempero) +1
    • Animate (vivifico) +2
  • Body (corpus) +1
  • Mind (mentis) +1
  • Spirit (animus) +1
  • Energy (navitas) +1
    • Fire (ignis) +2
  • Matter (materia) +1

For more fun, use Google Translate for something that it not Latin. My favorite so far is Indonesian.

This post is OGL, here is Section 15, which pertains specifically to this post.

15 COPYRIGHT NOTICE

Open Game License v 1.0 Copyright 2000, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.

System Reference Document, Copyright 2000-2003, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.; Authors Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams, Rich Baker, Andy Collins, David Noonan, Rich Redman, Bruce R. Cordell, John D. Rateliff, Thomas Reid, James Wyatt, based on original material by E. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson.

Swords & Wizardry Core Rules, Copyright 2008, Matthew J. Finch
Swords & Wizardry Complete Rules, Copyright 2010, Matthew J. Finch
Microlite20 Four by Five Magic, Copyright 2008, Robin Stacey
Four by Five Magic for Swords and Wizardry, Copyright 2014, John Payne